10 Super Creative Ways to Incorporate Mask Breaks in the Classroom

Incorporating Mask Breaks in Your Classroom - 10 Ideas to Get You Started

The 2020-2021 school year is like no other (and hopefully, it will remain a unique experience without repeat!). One of the things most teachers and students are adjusting to thanks to COVID-19 is wearing a mask for hours at a time. Some school districts have suggested “mask breaks” throughout the day. For example, Dr. Matt Stover, the superintendent of Catawba, North Carolina, explains mask breaks as, “The student would remove the mask down to their chin, and be able to get a couple of breaths not coughing, sneezing or spraying droplets.” These breaks are only to be taken if students are at least six feet apart. Many teachers have, of course, come up with some creative solutions for incorporating mask breaks into the schedule. 

1. Create a nook for mask breaks

Mask Breaks_MAsk nook

Via: @mrscessacsclass

How cute is this mask-free nook?! Kelli Cessac, a third-grade teacher in Tennessee is starting her sixth year in the classroom. She says creating an area for mask breaks has been a “saving grace.” She chose a “far corner area next to the window” for the nook so students are a safe distance from classmates if they need to take a mask break. Mrs. Cessac has incorporated elements of a calm down corner with posters to help identify emotions. “I am safe. Keep breathing. I can handle this,” is also prominently displayed. This is a good reminder for most of us these days! Fellow teachers had a couple of questions about the mask-free nook.

  • How often does the whole class take mask breaks? Mrs. Cessac explained she isn’t able to do mask breaks as a class because there isn’t room for desks to be spaced out six feet apart. The nook is her solution to allowing students to take mask breaks as needed in a safe way.
  • What do you do to ensure students aren’t taking advantage of the area? Mrs. Cessac said she discussed expectations with the class as a group and hasn’t had any issues with anyone abusing it. This would be a great topic to address in a class meeting, revisiting as needed. 

2. Issue passes for mask breaks

Via: @helloms.kristi

Give each student a laminated card with times printed on it. Students will have different times on their cards, some utilizing whole hours, quarter hours, half hours, etc. They can present the card at one of the times on their card to use as a pass for a mask break. This helps stagger it out when the whole group can’t remove their masks at once.

3. Schedule times for group mask breaks 

Mask Break schedule on whiteboard

Via: @mrs_litz

If your desks are spaced out at least six feet apart, having a schedule for mask breaks allows students to focus knowing it’s coming. If you create a schedule, make sure you stick to it. You could also take the class outside for their mask breaks!

4. Give students a way to signal they need a mask break

mask break sign
mask break sign

Via: @teaching.tiny_humans

Massachusetts second grade teacher Anne Marie Savello gave each of her students a small sign to hold up when they need a mask break. This allows students to communicate their need to the teacher without interrupting the class. The signs can double as a hall pass if students need to step out for a quick breather. Ms. Savello has made her template available as a free printable in her TPT store. Get it HERE.

5. Go outside as a class for mask breaks.

class outside

Via: @martinmiddleela

Have class outside when you can. This is great for reading or independent work.

6. Utilize areas that are already six feet apart.

Via: @st.leo_the_great

Some schools have smaller class sizes since they’re operating a rotating schedule. This makes it easier to find outdoor spaces for the whole class to take a break from masks. Parking spaces are usually at least six feet and already have lines in place. Only take students to parking areas that aren’t in use, of course. Since most schools aren’t allowing parents on campus, visitor parking lots are empty. Students can use chalk to practice spelling words or math on the pavement. 

7. Measure spaces for mask breaks.

If there isn’t room in your classroom for the whole group to take mask groups, find a spot that will allow it. Bring a tape measure and a rolls of masking tape or piece of chalk to mark off safe areas for each student. Halls, courtyards, and empty basketball courts are a few of the options. 

8. Make a mask-free zone.

We don’t all have the time or creative energy to make cute nooks and that’s okay! Slap up a “Mask-free Zone” sign somewhere on the edge of your classroom and know you did a great job, too! 

take a mask break sign_TeachersPayTeachers

Printable by The Teacher’s Teacher, download it on TPT!

9. Use picture signs.

Add visual signs to the schedule to let young students, special ed students, and those learning English know a mask break is coming.

10. Make storage containers for mask breaks. 

We all know things have a way to get sticky, wet, and just gross fast at school. Dollar Tree food storage containers are usually four for a buck and give everyone a place to put their mask when not in use.

Via: @planreadteach

Wearing masks all day is a new challenge for many students – and teachers, too. Knowing there is a plan in place for scheduled breaks and options for taking a mask-free breath as needed goes a long way in bringing down anxiety. 


Students and teachers are getting used to wearing masks all day. Here are 10 ways to incorporate mask breaks.

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Rachael Moshman
Rachael Moshman, M.Ed., an editor at Bored Teachers, is a mom, educator, writer, and advocate for self-confidence. She's been a teacher in classrooms of infants through adult college students. She loves pizza, Netflix and yoga. Connect with her at rachael.m@boredteachers.com
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